As part of its Pacific strategy The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ is working with the New Zealand government to build a state-of-the-art eye care centre in the capital of the Solomon Islands. The $3.8million investment will create a sustainably designed facility and represents an ongoing commitment from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade to the charity founded over 20 years ago by the late Professor Fred Hollows.
Andrew Bell, The Foundation’s Executive Director, emphasises the lasting impact of the centre for Solomon Islanders and the importance of accessible eye care for all.
“This investment by the New Zealand government will allow thousands of people to receive quality eye care in the decades to come. The Foundation has trained an outstanding team of eye doctors from the Solomon Islands. Now with this centre, they will be able to fully utilise their skills to help even more people in need.”
Bell says the centre is an example of the enduring influence of Professor Fred Hollows.
“The Foundation is working to realise Fred’s dream of a world free from avoidable blindness. Our patients in the developing world are deserving of the same quality eye care we expect here in New Zealand. To provide these services, our eye doctors and nurses require world-class facilities such as this health centre.”
The Foundation Director says the new facility sends a strong message to the people of the Solomon Islands and the Pacific region.
“The new centre will visibly demonstrate that eye care is a priority,” says Bell. “Second-hand equipment and makeshift clinics are not good enough to help Solomon Islanders who are needlessly blind.”
Bell says the contract plays a critical role in The Foundation’s ongoing strategy to make the Pacific region sustainable in eye care.
“As well as allowing us to restore sight to more people, this centre will form the hub of a regional strategy to support eye nurse graduates and provide additional training facilities. We are committed to working on the ground to provide long-term solutions and develop local leadership in eye care.”
The new health centre was designed by award-winning New Zealand architect Pete Bossley and is firmly rooted in sustainable design principles.
Bell notes, “This centre is a model of ‘smart development’ with many of its structural and design elements developed here in New Zealand. We’re incredibly grateful for the time Bossley and his team have donated to us, from the very genesis of the idea. They have brought us a wealth of experience over the last two years in designing the centre to be self-sufficient and equipped to handle Pacific conditions.”
Construction on the new building begins in Honiara later this month with plans for it to open early in 2015. The project represents a tripartite collaboration between the New Zealand government, The Foundation and the Solomon Islands government. While funds and expertise for the building come from New Zealand, the centre will be run by the Ministry of Health in Honiara as part of National Referral Hospital. The centre will serve the far reaches of the nation, through outreach services to remote communities and patient referrals to the capital.